Should You Stay Married for the Kids?

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Should You Stay Married for the Kids?
If you're not happy in your marriage should you stay for the sake of your children?

A few years ago, I worked with a couple who adopted several handicapped children. Their love for children led them to make the sacrifices they knew would be required of both husband and wife to raise those children to adulthood. Carefully, deliberately, and prayerfully they consciously thought through the entire process and together decided it was the right thing to do.

That worked fine for a few years. Then he fell in love with someone else. His intensity of passion for the new relationship did more than provide him the emotional rationalization to leave his wife. It provided him enough motivation to leave his wife to take care of those handicapped children. He claimed to love them, but when I asked if he loved them enough to stay with them and give them what they needed, he replied that he had to follow his heart and leave with his lover. When I pursued the conservation by asking what happened to his well-thought-out commitment that led to adopting those children, he shrugged. “Things change.”

On another occasion I watched a mother leave her son who was ravaged by cancer. She had birthed him, raised him for years, given him a mother’s love. However, when "Prince Charming” came into her life, she no longer felt any obligation to be there for her son as he struggled to live. “He has plenty of people to care about him. I need to do what I need to do for myself,” she stated with little evidence of emotion. She had once been very religious, so I asked her what God thought of her abandoning the helpless child to the care of her husband while she started a life anew with someone else. “God loves me. He wants me to be happy. He wants me to do this.”

These are heartwrenching examples, and certainly, many parents do agonize over their children's needs in the face of separation. But the lure of perceived happiness "out there" can quickly override those concerns - or even blind a parent completely.

What do children pray for?

Back in 1998, my wife and I saw the Sandra Bullock movie, Hope Floats.

I hope never to see it again.

Nothing against Sandra or the other actors; rather it was the scene where the daughter followed her father to his vehicle pleading, sobbing, and begging him not to leave. I remember reading at the time that the young actress became so distraught in the scene that Sandra impulsively came to the girl’s emotional rescue. The girl threw herself into Bullock’s arms continuing to sob in deep distress. It was the most emotionally devastated I have ever been at a movie. All I wanted to do was help that girl.

Of course, it was only a movie. Just acting, though at quite a cost. But it’s real in so many ways. Tonight, there will be thousands of children praying alone in their bedrooms, begging God to stop Dad or Mom from fighting. Pleading with Him to lead their parents back into love. Fearing the apparently inevitable divorce that will split their family apart.

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Joe Beam

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Joe Beam is an internationally respected marriage and relationship expert. He founded Beam Research Center, an organization that provides marriage help to hurting couples through a powerful workshop called Marriage Helper 911. For more information, click here.

Location: Franklin, TN
Credentials: Other
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